HEADTEACHERS at Wrexham’s cash-strapped schools have been warned they will have to make redundancies sooner rather than later.

It comes as one secondary school in the county is projected to have a deficit of more than half a million pounds by the end of March.

New figures show Ysgol Rhiwabon’s budget position is expected to stand at around minus £550,000 having grown from an overspend of £382,000 at the start of the financial year.

Politicians have raised concerns about the large amount as they feel the issue is not being addressed quickly enough.

Addressing a scrutiny committee meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Phil Wynn (Ind), lead member for education stressed it was up to governing bodies and headteachers to balance their books. He said: “The challenges are it’s the governing body and the heads that run the school; we can’t micro manage.

“The head will understand the teaching staff he will need to employ to deliver the curriculum.

“Schools that are ahead of the ball have unfortunately made staff redundancies in previous years and that’s the challenge the heads have to face.

“Ultimately if a school doesn’t face reality quickly then circumstances can run away with the budget.

“I would like to stress that it’s up to heads and governors to unfortunately make tough decisions sooner rather than later.”

Schools facing financial difficulties are able to approach the education authority to ask for a licensed deficit, which works similarly to an overdraft.

Typically the approved amount will need to be paid back over a period of three years.

Ysgol Rhiwabon is currently one of 12 schools in the area which has entered such an arrangement.

Head of schools finance, Ian Roberts said he believed the school could have started bringing its deficit in order more quickly if it started the process sooner.

He said: “They do need to make sure their staffing numbers are reducing.

“We will be going back to the executive board with an update on that situation.

“One of the questions will be why has the deficit increased by £200,000 and what are your projections for the next year or so?”

While the overall budget position of Wrexham’s schools shows a positive balance of over £560,000, that amount has reduced by around £1.45m since the start of the year.

Schools are facing an extra pressure in the upcoming financial year as a result of an increase to teacher pay and pensions.

However, council leader Mark Pritchard (Ind) said an announcement was due shortly on how much will be funded by central government.

He also added to the calls for schools to be more prudent.

He said: “There’s nothing wrong with us as an executive board challenging schools and their budget and their overspend. Schools need to realise that they have to be financially prudent as well.

“I believe it’s illegal to remove the deficit of a school under the financial regulations.

“They have to climb out of this and work with their debts and their overspends themselves.”

Members of the customers, performance, resources and governance scrutiny committee voted to note the forecasted position of the schools.